Unresolved financial crisis at university of Balochistan
The University of Balochistan(UOB), Quetta, one of the oldest and largest universities in the province is currently mired in a deeply entrenched economic crisis.
Over the last two decades, UOB has constantly been witnessing a growing financial crisis. Both federal and provincial governments so far remained utterly failed to resolve the financial woes of the university.
Regrettably, professors and teachers conceived to be as a nation builder were supposed to be in classes enlightening the students are now on the roads, chanting slogans against provincial government and the Vice-Chancellor of the University demanding their salaries.
Being President of the Academic Staff Association (ASA), at the UOB. I am obliged to draw a well-needed attention of the provincial government as well as Dr. Shafiq-ur-Rehman, Vice-chancellor of the University to address the delicate and fragile economic situation of the university.
In order to address the grievances of the professors, teachers and employees, the Joint Action Committee at UOB called for a strike.
The strike has been underway for the last two weeks. Last week the black day was also observed, as the administration of the university violates the Supreme Court decision that clearly states that employees be given their salaries on 1st day of the month.
Ironically, employees have’nt given salaries for the last two months. There ought to be a permanent and long-term solution to the financial crisis of the university.
It is the fundamental responsibility of federal and provincial governments to invest massively in higher education to generate funds and make headway in science, technology research and development.
As far as my sense is concerned, the bigger responsibility lies on the Vice-Chancellor, Pro- voice Vice Chancellor, treasures including principal officers to exert pressure on the provincial government of Balochistan to grant salaries to the employees.
Granting salary, by all means, is not a demand, it is their fundamental right. The VC was supposed to have arranged extra funds for the university.
The incumbent VC needs to send young teachers abroad for foreign scholarships with an aim of bringing innovative ideas and knowledge to the university.
He is unsuccessful in launching projects in the university that could have played a catalyst role in generating funds.
Unfortunately, we cannot think of foreign scholarships and initiations of the aforementioned projects.
Professors and teachers so far are deprived of their salaries. Currently, the UOB has been plunged into a deep financial crisis making the life’s of professors, teachers and employees miserable and painful.
It is worth mentioning here that the budget presented by the provincial government of Balochistan in 2022-23 comprised 700 billion rupees.
Surprisingly, within 700 billion rupees only 2.50 billion rupees were released to 11 universities in the province in the shape of grants and aids.
The inadequate and meagre amount of 2.50 billion rupees for the 11 universities, is insufficient to address financial woes of the universities. Meanwhile, the federal budget for 2022 was comprised 10 thousand billion rupees.
The federal government only issued and amount of 65 billion rupees for the recurring budget for all the universities of the country which is exceedingly insufficient for the higher education, particularly in the era of science, technology, research and development.
To bear in mind, since 2017 the federal government has released merely 65 billion rupees annually for the recurring budget of higher education of Pakistan which lags the country far behind in the race for higher education in the region.
Against this backdrop, VCs of universities across the country are in deep slumber and are reluctant to take concrete steps to create funds and bring visionary steps to higher education of the country.
VCs and Pro-Vice-Chancellors in the universities across Balochistan should have informed the provincial government about the delicate situation of universities.
VCs were obliged to be with us in addressing and highlighting the financial conundrum of the universities.
They appear to be thoroughly oblivious and non-serious to mitigate the grievances. It is humbly requested to the federal government to release 150 billion rupees recurring budget annually for the universities of Pakistan.
The provincial government of Balochistan, in this regard, ought to release 10 billion rupees out of 700 billion rupees for the universities across Balochistan.
Releasing 10 billion rupees will alleviate the financial woes and will win hearts and minds of professors, teachers and employees.
They will indeed take extra interests in classes and research works that invariably will prove fruitful and instrumental for Pakistan in general and Balochistan in particular.
Arguably, an insecure and uncertain professor and teacher amid inflation and uncertainty can never produce secure and critical scholars.
Balochistan requires a special attention by virtue of its geostrategic location and the growing rivalry of regional and international players in the region.
Depriving professors, teachers and employees of their salaries, making no progress in generating funds, and exacerbation of poverty and lawlessness in the province will create a vacuum to be filled by the external enemies of the country.
The sooner salaries are released with permeant solution, the better for prosperous and luminous future of Balochistan.
The writer is President of the Academic Staff Association, University of Balochistan, Quetta.